SC sends Gopal Ansal back to jail in Uphaar cinema fire case

RSTV Bureau
New Delhi: File photo of Uphaar fire victims at AIIMS in New Delhi in 1997. 59 cinegoers died of asphyxia in a massive blaze that engulfed the theatre in 1997. Photo - PTI

New Delhi: File photo of Uphaar fire victims at AIIMS in New Delhi in 1997. 59 cinegoers died of asphyxia in a massive blaze that engulfed the theatre in 1997. Photo – PTI

On Thursday the Supreme Court reviewed its 2015 order in the Uphaar cinema fire tragedy case in which 59 people had died in 1997.

The apex court, in a majority verdict of 2:1, asked Gopal Ansal to surrender within four weeks to serve the remaining jail term of the one year punishment.

But at the same time the court gave relief to Gopal’s older brother Sushil Ansal, considering his age. The court gave him a jail term already undergone by him, including the remission, in the case.

The majority verdict pronounced by Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Kurian Joseph said that fine of Rs 30 crore each imposed on Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal by the apex court earlier was “not excessive”.

The apex court delivered the judgement on the pleas of CBI and the victims’ body seeking a review of the 2015 verdict in the case asking Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal to serve a two-year jail term if they fail to pay Rs 30 crore each as fine.

In a judgement on September 23, 2015, the bench had said the “magnitude” of the case “calls for a higher sentence” but the court has to limit itself to the choice available under the law.

The probe agency and the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) had sought review of the apex court verdict, delivered on August 19, 2015, sending Ansal brothers to two years rigorous jail term if they fail to pay Rs 30 crore each within three months. The convicts have already paid the fine.

New Delhi: File photo of Uphaar Cinema in New Delhi in 1997. 59 cinegoers died of asphyxia in a massive blaze that engulfed the theatre in 1997. Photo - PTI

New Delhi: File photo of Uphaar Cinema in New Delhi in 1997. 59 cinegoers died of asphyxia in a massive blaze that engulfed the theatre in 1997. Photo – PTI

59 people had died of asphyxia when a fire broke out during the screening of Bollywood movie ‘Border’ in Uphaar theatre in Green Park area of South Delhi on June 13, 1997.

The apex court had on December 5 last year asked the Ansal brothers not to leave India till it disposes of the review pleas after AVUT cited a media report about their possibility of leaving the country in the absence of a restraint order from it.

AVUT, through its President Neelam Krishnamoorthy, who had lost her two teenaged children in the blaze, had cited a media report that the convicts were “on the verge of fleeing the country”.

(With inputs from PTI)